Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations and Best Practices.
Here we have Mike the owner of the Business with a problem on his hands as George the ‘Horse and Carriage’ driver has refused to do any convoy work, on the grounds that it was not in his job description.
The matter has gone to the Arbitrator at the CMMA and we are about to find out how the story ends.
The bottom line is that Mike had instituted a clear procedure on what was to happen in the event that there was a dispute. George and the Union had failed to adhere to this procedure. There was also a clear history, where previous drivers had done ‘convoy’ work and the Arbitrator could not find any evidence to show that the instruction was unreasonable in any way.
The Arbitrator also found that Mike was entitled to instruct the ‘Horse & Carriage’ drivers to work in the new vehicles (or convoys as they are known), when they were unable to perform their normal duties or when there was insufficient work for their ‘Horse & Carriage’ duties, and that the ‘Horse & Carriage’ drivers were not entitled to refuse to carry out such an instruction on the grounds that it was not in their job descriptions.
Although in this particular instance, Mike won his case, it would be advisable to ensure that you have proper job descriptions in place. Since it was the ‘clause’ that won the day, it would also be a good idea to include the clause “should a grievance be felt with regard to any instruction issued, representation may be made to supervision or higher authority by means of the grievance procedure, but in the first instance the instruction shall be obeyed.” Obviously then, you would also need to have a ‘Grievance Procedure’ in place too.
It must also be evident that Job Descriptions are not written in blood or cast in stone, as situations change all the time – so it would also be a good idea to have something like “the functions and responsibilities listed in the job description may be changed at any time, depending upon the operational requirements of the employer, and within the parameters of the post held by the employee.”
As usual though, all procedures, policies and controls and the changes that are made to them, must be made readily available to the staff.
The lesson to be learnt from this case though, is that you must have policies and procedures in place.
Next time we will start on a new case study.